TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Transportation Minister E.E. Mangindaan said that state airline Merpati Nusantara Airlines must be saved. He said that Merpati, which means pigeon, has been meritorious in serving flights to smaller cities in Indonesia.
"I have always said that we must not freeze Merpati, don't kill it. We must look back at its past accomplishments," he told Tempo on Wednesday, July 9.
The minister believes the airline still has good sales values with a promising market share. "It would be in demand when other airlines back away from remote destinations. The main this is to keep going forward," Mangindaan said.
As for the House of Representatives' (DPR) proposal to overhaul Merpati's management, Mangindaan refused. The minister said it is difficult to find people willing to become Merpati's director, mend the airline's finances, and then fired—all in just two months time.
As of January 2014, Merpati's debt had reached Rp7.6 trillion, comprising of its loans to state-owned enterprises, private, and the government.
Merpati has been grounded since February. If the airline's finances improve, the Transportation Ministry will re-issue its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC).
The DPR has recommended the Transportation Ministry to re-issue Merpati's AOC. The Council also recommended SOE Minister Dahlan Iskan to fire Merpati director Asep Ekanugraha and other board members under the bases of moral hazard.
PUTRI ADITYOWATI | ANANDA PUTRI | HERMAWAN SETYANTO